You'll never believe what's happened!
Now that I've intrigued you, I'll make you stew for a few paragraphs. Don't cheat and peek ahead.
Our vacation runs out in a couple of days and we're on the way home again. We've been in the middle of nowhere more often than not, and this motel is the first place we've stayed at in some time that has a wireless network, so I'll take the chance to fill you in now; I probably won't have email again until I get home.
My cellphone rang when I was driving through Cookville, Tennessee the day I left you. It was Robert! He'd finally gotten his vacation approved and was on his way to meet me. We met up in Knoxville and talked about what we wanted to do for our honeymoon. It's still not a good idea to travel to the Bahamas, apparently, so we modified our original plan and decided on a road trip through interesting small towns with weird roadside attractions in Georgia and Alabama and Florida. So far, so Kerouacesque.
I'll tell you some other time about the Agrirama (really! could I invent something like that?) and the Cypress Knee Museum and the other silly or weird things we saw, but the best thing that happened to us, which the rest of Athens is going to hear about and then rush to the Everglades as soon as they pick their jaws up off the floor, is hot, sticky humid weather, the kind where your clothes soak up so much sweat within five minutes of your putting them on you might as well have gotten dressed while you were still in the shower. (Not that we've showered or worn clothes recently. That might be a problem sooner or later.)
Just sun and hot weather aren't enough. Any number of students and other people from Athens have been to south Florida beaches since the change. And heat and humidity *per se* aren't quite enough either. We apparently had to hit just the right combination of conditions, which we found in the Florida Everglades about twenty or thirty miles inland from Naples.
We stayed for a while at a campground run by the Seminole Indian tribe. (The Seminoles on this reservation had a really interesting change, shared with white and black and Hispanic folks in a long narrow change-region running north from here between the many smaller coastal change-regions... but you're mad at me for making you read so far for the real news, so I'll save that for another email.) There were few other guests, and none right near our campsite, and we were hot and sticky, like I said, but still somehow happier, more comfortable even, than we'd been in days. So we took to leaving our clothes off except when we went to the campground office or the convenience store near I-75 for supplies. We saw a few alligators, but they didn't bother us.
One afternoon we were lazing on a spread-out blanket in the shade of some cypress trees, when I started to feel a... hmm. I'm at a loss for words. I'll say an itchy tingling, but that's not quite right. At first I couldn't place it; then I decided it was not entirely unlike the feeling I used to get when I was sitting next to Robert during a movie, our arms around each other, and my crotch would insist that it wanted him *now*, not later, and what's all this nonsense about the sanctity of marriage anyway? and I'd tell her, "just sixteen days till the wedding."
I checked, though, and my pseudo-vagina wasn't wet. I mean, yes, my whole body was wet, but only with sweat. Robert saw what I was doing and said, "Are you feeling something there?"
"Yes," I said excitedly. "Are you feeling it too?"
"I think so," he said. "Is this what being a woman feels like?" His voice was strange; sad and excited at once.
"Not really," I said. "I mean, this is more like what I used to feel toward you, physically, than it is like anything else I've ever felt, but it's not really like that either. It's new."
"What we are, we don't know yet," he said; from his tone I think he was quoting or more likely misquoting something.
We experimented a bit but, despite the weird tingling, we didn't have erogenous tissue any more than we had a day earlier. That feeling got stronger all afternoon and evening, and I felt a longing; not for Robert, though I still loved him as much as ever, maybe more, but for... This is going to sound weird, but I promise it will make sense in a minute or two, or as much sense as the things you've done since the change make to me. I wanted the Everglades to make love to me. Robert and I talked, and he was feeling much the same. We were feeling wonderfully lazy, and not at all hungry though we hadn't eaten since breakfast. We lay there holding each other, sipping Gatorade and soaking the blanket with our sweat, and watching critters small and large crawl and fly by without taking any notice of us or bothering us, until we fell asleep.
The next morning I woke up to find I had blossomed overnight.
So had Robert.
You saw how my breasts had atrophied over the few weeks since the change, so by the time I came to see you half the strangers I met mistook me for a man. And I told you how my mound had kind of flattened or smoothed out, till my crotch looked like Robert's, and our pubic hair fell out. (I should tell you now that I'm sorry I got mad at you when you asked me to show you, and couldn't understand why I was upset; I know you think differently now and don't feel about privacy like most people used to and like we Athenians still do. I know, but sometimes I have a hard time with it emotionally. So be patient with me and I'll try to keep being patient with you.)
So now that I've said we blossomed overnight you're thinking, adult-sized bodies shaped roughly like prepubescent girls: then bam, two mature women! No, I'm talking literally. We had flowers growing out of our pseudo-vaginas. Big white flowers with two layers of five petals each, and (I found, carefully inspecting Robert's blossom while we both giggled like teenagers) both pistils and stamens. I touched his and and he touched mine, but only briefly; they were painfully sensitive. They weren't meant to be touched by fingers.
What they were meant to be touched by, we could figure out easily enough; we felt it already, we'd felt it the evening before -- but within a short while after dawn, as we lay there embracing and our blossoms opened wider in the morning light, we knew. And the Everglades knew us, in the Biblical sense.
By nightfall I'd lost track of how many species of pollinator had visited us; two kinds of hummingbird, and several kinds of bees, and a zillion butterflies. The hummingbirds were slightly rough; the butterflies were the gentlest lovers. It was always good when a bee crawled inside, or a butterfly inserted her long curling proboscis like a tiny elephant's trunk, but it was several times better when a butterfly visited me who had just visited Robert's flower a moment before. We lay there, too stunned with ecstasy to move, all day, and fell asleep when our flowers closed again just after sunset.
We'd had big bottles of Gatorade sitting in a cooler within arm's reach, and finished them off in the course of the day; next morning when we woke, we felt thirsty, but not dangerously dehydrated, and we no longer felt the same need to lie there and let the pollinators have their way with us. We got up and went to the car, and got the larger cooler out of the trunk; I made us drink a bunch more Gatorade before we did anything else.
We got up and walked around, feeling the delicious breeze over our sweaty bodies and in the petals of our flowers. We had to walk a little differently because of the flowers, they were so big. We ate breakfast, our appetite (for food, I mean) having come back, and walked some more, wearing just shoes and nothing else. Mosquitoes abounded, but they didn't bite us -- they hadn't bitten us during the whole trip. We probably don't smell like mammals to them, somehow. A few butterflies and bees visited us during our walk, though not nearly as many as the day before, and we'd lean against each other and hold still while they pollinated us, then sigh with joy and hug (sideways, careful not to bump our flowers into anything), and go on. Nothing except the pollinating insects and those two solitary hummingbirds took any notice of us; maybe we smelled too plantlike for the carnivores to want to eat us and too animallike for the herbivores.
We stayed in the Everglades for the rest of our vacation, of course, but then we had to go back, and we found, when we packed the car and tried to get dressed, that of course we couldn't fit any underwear on over these flowers. Not boxers and certainly not panties. And putting pants or a skirt on over them, with or without underwear, was just as painful. We settled for just shirts and shoes, with which we should in theory be admitted to any restaurant in the country, then finished packing and drove out.
No police pulled us over for public nudity while we were driving, but things got awkward for a moment when we stopped in Port Charlotte to use the restroom at a gas station. But the gas station clerk didn't raise an eyebrow at our condition; just pointed the way to the restrooms and went back to her cellphone conversation. I guess we're not the only ones whose change made wearing clothes difficult or impossible.
I'll write again soon after we get home.